Life, Faith and Urban Farming

The life and happenings of an unconventional pastor and urban farmer living in the city with a family of five.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Missional Living #2

As I said before, missional living requires a theological reorientation toward a missional lifestyle. Today I want to write about the theological reorientation part of that phrase.

Over the past 1600 years Christianity has been the religion of the privileged and powerful in most western societies. Theology has been done by the majority and for the majority. We have come to understand God in light of our cultural situation where the majority is powerful and the majority is Christian. For many, many years evangelism was unnecessary because everyone in these Christian societies was considered a Christian simply because of where they were born. And in recent years evangelism has been done by focusing on the masses, large groups that would gather to hear the gospel. Today this doesn’t work, non-Christians are not going ot be attracted to our programs no matter how cool we think they are. The theology of the majority still heavily effects our theological orientation.

We also live in a culture that is very individualistic and self-centered. Most of the spiritual formation I’ve experienced within the church has focused solely on my personal quiet times. It has been assumed that if you spend a half hour a day in prayer and bible reading everything else you do will be blessed. Maybe there would be a focus on small groups or accountability groups, but in the end everything seemed to focus on me, and me somehow becoming more spiritual. This kind of thinking is a theological orientation. This orientation says that God is primarily concerned with individuals and individual spiritual growth. Living a missional lifestyle requires that we change or at least broaden this theological orientation.

A missional theological orientation in the 21st century requires that we stop thinking of Christianity as the religion of the powerful or the religion of the majority. I think the liberation theologians of Central and South America got something right when they pushed us to remember that God has always been the God of the oppressed and never the God of the empire. We must understand God as always being for the oppressed, the people in need, the minority, and the people who lack political power. When we have this reorientation toward God we experience a serious call to mission. This new call to mission involves both social justice and contextualization of the gospel to each and every people group and subculture.

In the book of Acts we read all about the community of faith. The church living in community is always focused on and mission by that community is often stressed. The early church also developed important theology of the Trinity which tells us that God is in fact a communal God of three distinct persons. Today our theological reorientation should come by reading scripture and understanding that God is not only concerned for individuals but also communities and especially those outside the community. Our theological reorientation must draw us away from ourselves and toward the importance of caring for others and adopting into the community of faith those who are on the outside.

So, all that to say that God desires that we begin focusing outside of our selves. He desires that we look at every relationship we have as an opportunity to love and an opportunity to allow Jesus to work in this world. If we understand God in light of the life of Jesus we cannot live a selfish life, but we must live life focused on blessing others, believing that Jesus is active in our living. There's a lot more that could be written and argued here, PLEASE COMMENT!

5 comments:

Terry L. Mann said...

John,

Good thoughts. However, wouldn't it be more accurate to say that over theology was done my the "minority for the majority?" I could be way off base as an old f*** here but I am just wondering . . .

Terry / Matrixminister

Terry L. Mann said...

John,

I need a typist!! It should have read "our theology was done by the minority for the majority."

Sheesh!
Terry

marlaena said...

john,

"reorientation" is a word i've been coming across alot lately in my reading. most authors will say we don't need another reformation but a reorientation.

i really appreciate your thoughts on community, our need for community, the role of community, how God works and moves through community. i think community is a word we give lip service to - the exciting thing to me about you and bj is that you have the courage to actually live it and model it.

John said...

When I think of minorities doing theology in the past I think of the Anabaptists who were killed off by the Catholics and the Protestants, both majority groups in Europe. Not that all theology in the past was bad, but the theology done for and by the minorities were usually not heard at all.

Terry L. Mann said...

I think we are talking about the terms "minority" and "majority" with separate meanings. I am referring to the fact that the minority (priests, scribes, etc.) did theology for the majority (the common man) who had no access to a Bible. The common person was told their theology. This is unlike today where access to theological insights (of which blogs are one example) is common place.

I do not think the contemporary meaning of "minorities" was on anyone's radar screen for those years. Anabaptists were referred to as heretics, not so much a minority. But then again this is a semantic deal going on here.

As I usually am prone to do, I am thinking a lot more broadly. I am not referring to the various Christian sects and divisions who were fighting against "Rome or Luther."

Terry